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Mastery Moments - video shorts: 1. Answers in complete sentences

Created on 07 December 2016 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 14 December 2016 by ncetm_administrator

It’s important for pupils in maths lessons to give answers to questions using full sentences--not just one-word answers. Watch this 2 minute video to find out why.

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  • 1. Answers in complete sentences

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07 December 2018 15:09
It should work if you click the play icon, or alternatively, use the download option
07 December 2018 14:53

Looking for this video for a CPD session. DO you kow where I can now find it?

By andreawirth
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14 November 2017 23:11
Are there any other resources on the website on this theme? I've tried to find examples of stem sentences but I've not been successful so far. Thank you.
By Lisa1975
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25 April 2017 23:01
I have been asking my year three children to speak in whole sentences and I have been amazed at the impact it has had on their leanring, and ability to speak about maths. It hasn't stunted their learning at all. I have used a lot of stem sentences, and it has empowered the children, and helped them to articulate their understanding. I have also started getting the children to write a reflection at the end of lessons, and this has developed their language too.
By primaryt
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09 January 2017 15:01
Debbie - please could you give me more information on the research you mention (Lai and Murray 2012) as I'd like to read more - thank you I FOUND IT! PAPER ON PROCEDURAL VARIATION
By geebee99
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08 January 2017 11:08
Following CPD by Debbie on the importance of the children being able to articulate their Maths, I started to do so with my Year 3 pupils. It soon became clear why it is so powerful to have the children speak in full sentences. Our teachers place great importance upon there being a reason for calculating, a real life scenario or situation where something happens. If chidren are to become fluent in their Maths, then when they are learning that equations can be written in different orders, then it is vital that they still have a handle on which part of the equation has which meaning and can therefore, visualise what is happening. It was particularly useful when my Year 3 pupils were learning about taking away 3 digit numbers from 3 digit numbers. Misconceptions happen when a child hasn't fully grasped what each part of the equation represents. In the same way in English, that we know how to use pronouns, it is important to know who/what the pronoun is referring to, in order for the sentence to make sense. It is a useful way to assess a pupil's understanding, particularly if it is a pupil who struggles to grasp concepts easily. I also use it as a way for the other children to evaluate. They are encouraged to listen to each other, so that discussion can happen if a child disagrees. The children have been more successful in interpreting word problems through working out what each number represents and then deciding what is happening.
By klee30
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29 December 2016 04:33
Well I haven't still been able to watch the video, but read through the insightful comments of the folks. I primarily ask my grade 6 & 7 to answer in complete sentences so they can themselves make sense of their answer and whether they are actually answering the question asked. I empahsis that a single number for example 17.35 make no sense, and if they were to answer the question in complete sentence, for instance "Tom has to be 17.35 year old before he can get his driving licence" would scream at them that considering all their computation is correct the appropriate answer to this question (no matter how poorly it may have been structured) would be that "Tom has to be about 17 & half, or 18 years of age before he can get his licence." Of course the whole idea of answering questions in complete sentences for me is to generate opportunity for peer discussion and evalauating of what would be more sensible real life answer, rather than only numerically correct one, in a given situation.
By shahramgz
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20 December 2016 10:11
Mathematical language is different from everyday language and we need to help our children to develop their fluency with it, to allow them to express their ideas. The sentences used in the video were very similar in structure to those that we sometimes encouage children to use when they begin to write; but we wouldn't want their writing to be stilted by stock phrases. When encouraging them to talk in sentences in mathematics, we need to help them to refine their everyday explanations into a mathematical format. So teachers need to model the sentenes, have mathematical vocabulary visible for children to refer to and to be as empathetic to them as we are when they experiment with language in writing.
By MAJeff
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16 December 2016 20:01
The important thing is when these sentences are introduced. They are never introduced for the first time at the beginning of a lesson, but are developed as a summary of what has already been learnt, explored and expressed. They sometimes come from the children who express the mathematics in a helpful way that is then shared with the whole class
16 December 2016 17:13
What worries me about this and other NCETM videos is that children and teachers might begin to see mathemaics as being primarily about learning a series of stock phrases. The focus might become one of shaping behaviour rather than developing thinking. This might have a certain appeal to teachers who are not confident about mathematics, but could result in lessons that are dull and stifling.

Just as we value the use of different representations and models, so it can be enriching to allow children to express ideas in different ways, in their own words (including, to be sure, a growing use of mathematical terms). This also provides the teacher with a window on the children's thinking. It is important too, that we convey to children that we value their nascent ideas, however falteringly expressed to begin with. Knowing whether or not a child can recite a stock phrase may tell us little about their mathematical thinking.
16 December 2016 10:37

Memorisation and understanding can sometimes be seen as two opposing ideas. However this idea is challenged in some research literature, for example Lai and Murray (2012) who argue that the two aspects of memorisation and understanding are intertwined, where one supports the other.
16 December 2016 09:43
These short videos are not intended to be comprehensive but to capture a snap shot of an aspect of teaching for mastery that might be a starter for discussion. Here are some reasons as to why repetition and stems sentences might be beneficial:

Maintaining children’s focus

Enabling all children to recognise what’s important and what needs to be remembered for later learning

Reducing cognitive load to enable learning to happen

Returning to ideas and enabling ideas to be connected

Providing the correct language for all childrento think about and communicate mathematical ideas

Providing high quality shared language to discuss, connect and share ideas.
15 December 2016 11:22
A nice, clear video demonstrating something that I feel really works, for the individual as well as the group. As already stated, it would be good to show this working with some open ended questions, and also nice to not have the teacher echoing the answer for the whole class - what is the point in listening to my peers when the teacher will just repeat everything they say anyway?
By MartySmiff
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15 December 2016 09:34
A simple point well made. Interesting that there is already a comment about the relevance of this to GCSE re-sit students in FE. We are also making efforts to improve maths language in the classroom.
By dohpaz
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14 December 2016 23:00
This video shows how it's used, but it doesn't explain why it is beneficial.
14 December 2016 15:14
Thank you for the feedback regarding playback issues. We think this was a temporary glitch with Vimeo (who host our videos) that has now been resolved. If you are still having any problems, please let us know.
14 December 2016 13:42
That might make a neat study, gduffymcghie - comparing the performance of students who are asked to reply in complete sentences with a matched group who are allowed to reply as they like.
By lsoundra
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14 December 2016 13:16
We're trying to champion this technique at a large FE College with students who are retaking GCSE maths. I think that if a student can articulate a mathematical process (in full and complete sentences), then they stand a better chance of completing the calculation. Demonstrating knowledge of the process is key I think.
By gduffymcghie
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14 December 2016 13:03
I'm not sure this video throws much light on good practice since the questions the teacher used were very closed. However, it does worry me that instead of harvesting children's ideas and letting their thinking blossom, this practice will stifle their thinking and inhibit the expression of nascent ideas. In the case of the boy who switches from "One car represents ..." to "One counter represents ...", it could be argued the full sentence has become a meaningless chant.
14 December 2016 13:00
It would have been helpful to view examples in a secondary class too.
By skintbint72
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